A Senate committee approved five nominees to the U.S. labor board, including two Democrats ensnared in a legal and political dispute over their appointment a year ago without confirmation.
The vote by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee sets up a fight over confirmation of the three Democrats and two Republicans to the National Labor Relations Board. The board, with three sitting members, will lose its quorum and be unable to function unless at least one nominee is confirmed before Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce’s term expires Aug. 27.
The nominees include Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, whose appointments by President Barack Obama in 2012 were deemed invalid in a Jan. 25 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. The administration has appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. Block and Griffin today won support from all Democrats and one Republican on the committee.
“I don’t doubt that these two nominations are qualified nominees,” Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the committee, said today. “The problem is the president appointed them as so-called recess appointments during a time the Senate wasn’t in recess.”
Republicans Harry Johnson and Philip Miscimarra were approved by unanimous votes. The panel approved Pearce 18-4.
The nominations advance to the full Senate, where a date for a confirmation vote hasn’t been set.
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